I received another amazing review for my book yesterday. This one came from my mom’s boss in Canada. Her words meant so much to me because my biggest fear in putting our story out there, is how people will perceive my mother. So when the one person who loved my mom like I did, read it, got it and loved it; I was so relieved. My mother was loyal with an unmatched work ethic. Putting my story into the world to be read and judged and picked apart leaves little to be desired. But what worries me more than anything else, is making sure I capture the essence of my mother and paint the picture of her suffering as best I can so that people prepared to sit in judgement, by the end of my book, will place it in the direction of the only person deserving of that – my father.
People who hear a portion of my back story always say to me, “Where was your mother when this was happening to you?” And it hurts me every time it happens. I felt so much guilt because I used to think that too and in my teens and early twenties I placed blame on her for everything. And she never deserved it. She was a broken woman. But she was also love. She was integrity. She was loyalty personified. She was determined to never be someone else’s burden. But more importantly, she was the product of what my father put her through, and because of what she endured, she was unable to see herself as worthy and never got the support she needed. It was important for me to capture that. To ensure people understood the damage domestic violence and years of severe abuse does to a woman. How limiting poverty can be in the way it robs you of true choice and leaves you vulnerable with few options. How it strips you of every bit of wonderful and steals the life from your eyes.
Even though I am proud that my words are landing in the way I intended, I understand that sometimes it isn’t possible to recover from the unimaginable hell another damaged soul inflicts, because many times, shame and fear prevent a woman from reaching out for help. So even though I am anticipating judgement, I hope that after reading our story, because in writing it, I realised it was my mother’s story as much as it was mine, my hope is that I have been able to shed light and birth compassion for a number of issues – domestic violence being one of them. I am in no way naive enough to believe that all reviews will be positive and filled with praise. I will catch my share of awful, and I am preparing for this as best I can. No one has the world as her audience and that’s ok. I need to know who I am and not be attached to the praise or the criticism upon release of this book.
I understand I am holding up a very uncomfortable mirror for people. Some will rise to the challenge and make changes in their lives. Some will receive it and have their eyes open to a world they didn’t know existed. While others will choose to remain in the dark with their head safely buried in the sand. And it is all ok. So to those who will judge, I am doing it anyway because I know there are people out there who are starving for hope and stories of resilience. I am shedding a light on the underbelly of a first world epidemic we are shamed to keep silent. I am no victim and what I love more than anything hearing the feedback from those who received advance copies, is that people are getting that message loud and clear. My story is seen as triumphant, authentic, courageous and brave.
I hope I can open people’s eyes wide to the insidiousness of family violence and the devastation caused by this and sexual abuse. The secret. The shame. The impact. The damage. The prison. The potential perpetuation of the cycle. But most importantly, let people know it is NOT YOUR SHAME. To get out. To get help. To find the support. To break the silence and to let the healing begin. It won’t be easy; but it will be worth it.
At the end of the day, we are all responsible for our destiny and we are all worthy of love and belonging. The rewrite of our past may not be possible, but we are the only ones with the pen in our hand and a clean sheet of paper holding infinite potential to a destiny of choice. The most powerful weapon we possess is the ability to choose. Use your lived experience as lessons. Learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others. You may have suffered but that doesn’t make you irreparably damaged. In our darkest hour our deepest insights can be gained.